If you love cryptids and the paranormal as much as we do then you’re probably already aware there are several sub genres available in your local bookstore about the paranormal and many of the fictional entries are highly entertaining and well-worth reading. However, paranormal enthusiasts (such as ourselves) typically prefer to spend time reading real-life accounts gathered by skilled writers with a particular fondness for this subject matter. Since you could easily find hundreds of authors who’ve published at least one nonfiction paranormal book, it’s essential to narrow your options down; especially if you’re working with a limited time frame or budget. Therefore, we’ve compiled a short top 10 list of some of the best nonfiction paranormal authors who have each written at least one must-read book. Whether you’re just beginning to explore the genre or have been reading it for years, all of these 10 writers are virtually certain to provide you with an enjoyable and hair-raising experience.
10 Nonfiction Paranormal Authors You Must Add to Your Reading List
1. Hans Holzer – Many paranormal enthusiasts refer to Hans Holzer as one of the originators of paranormal research. Holzer worked as a professor at the New York Institute of Technology where he taught parapsychology. In addition to academia, he had an extensive career as a researcher and author – releasing more than 120 books about the occult and supernatural subjects. Holzer famously hosted the “Ghost Hunter” TV shows and was the creative force behind many musicals, documentaries, films and plays.
Prior to his death in 2009, Holzer’s work significantly impacted the field of paranormal research. While many paranormal authors focus their investigations on personal cases, Holzer was involved in some of the biggest investigations of all time. For example, Holzer and medium Ethel Myers worked together in 1977 on The Amityville Horror case. In fact, Holzer was the first person to determine the haunted house in Amityville has been built on sacred Native American land. He wrote extensively about his experiences investigating the house and many of his other books explored the afterlife.
2. Caroline Mitchell – Many nonfiction paranormal stories seem completely unbelievable due to either a lack of the author’s personal credibility or the credibility of individual who experienced the event. The fact Caroline Mitchell is a police officer well-trained in evidence analysis, proper interview techniques and documentation immediately sets her apart from other middle-of-the-pack paranormal authors. Her training definitely shines through in Mitchell’s highly rated debut novel entitled “Paranormal Intruder: The True Story of a Family in Fear.”
Mitchell’s book documents her own personal experiences dealing with an unknown paranormal entity that plagued her family after they moved into a new home in the UK. The book includes photographic evidence, transcriptions of real-life EVP’s, interviews with other witnesses and a detailed description of all of the horror Mitchell and her family faced while trying to get answers and help. “Paranormal Intruder” typically maintains a top five Amazon UK bestsellers rank in the occult category, and this helps highlight the superior quality of Mitchell’s work.
3. John Zaffis – Hans Holzer might have predated John Zaffis’ work simply due to his age but most people in the paranormal community have given Zaffis the title of the godfather of the genre. To date, Zaffis has spent more than 40 years investigating the paranormal and publishing books about his experience. Zaffis is well known throughout the industry for his work running the Paranormal and Demonology Research Society of New England. His more notable work includes starring in the SyFy Network paranormal reality show entitled “Haunted Collector” and expert appearances on multiple news channels, documentaries and radio shows.
Even though Zaffis didn’t write his first book until 2004, his extensive experience was well-documented within its pages making “Shadows of the Dark” a thoroughly enjoyable reading experience. Within his book, Zaffis details the most intriguing investigations from his career, including information about the unusual case of a man who went through 16 exorcisms over a two decade time period.
4. Zak Bagans – Fans of the shows “Ghost Adventures” and “Paranormal Challenge” which air on the Travel Channel are well acquainted with the controversial approach of lead investigator Zak Bagans. The self-described former skeptic became a paranormal investigator after encountering a ghost in Michigan, and has since added writer, director and executive producer to his list of credits.
Bagans has upset some paranormal investigators and enthusiasts because of the aggressive style featured within his TV programs. It is unknown if this behavior is simply an exaggeration utilized to attract ratings but it is clear from his debut novel that Bagans is extremely knowledgeable about his chosen field of study. This makes “Dark World: Into the Shadows with the Lead Investigator of the Ghost Adventures Crew” a good choice for anyone wanting to learn more about paranormal events and what it’s like to investigate them.
5. Malachi Martin – Unlike the other authors and paranormal investigators on this list, Malachi Martin has the distinction of being a well-known exorcist and Irish Catholic priest who spent much of his career dealing with demonic possession. Martin wrote 17 books before his death in 1999, including a mixture of fiction and nonfiction work. Martin’s investigations were almost always based around his role as an exorcist which gives his nonfiction work a unique spin compared to the majority of other popular paranormal books.
One of Martin’s most intriguing and disturbing books is entitled “Hostage to the Devil.” Within its pages, Martin recalls the details of five exorcisms he participated in. This nonfiction piece was published in the early 1970s and drew comparisons to the movie and novel “The Exorcist.” Martin was not satisfied to merely provide the frightening and straightforward details about his time working as an exorcist so he also added a manual to the book that teaches people how to perform an actual exorcism. This one aspect alone makes “Hostage to the Devil” a compelling read for anyone who is interested in the dark side of the paranormal.
6. Jason Hawes – The SyFy Network’s popular series “Ghost Hunters” stars Jason Hawes and chronicles the experiences he and his team have while investigating reports of paranormal activity. Hawes began his paranormal investigation career in 1990 when he founded the Rhode Island Paranormal Society. After this, Hawes went on to found The Atlantic Paranormal Society and has written eight books to date with ghost hunting partner Grant Wilson.
One of the best aspects of Hawes’ work is the fact it’s a combination of case history and education. For example, “The Ghost Files” offers in-depth details about several paranormal investigation cases Hawes and Wilson explored together long before their TV show began. Additionally, there are special sections in most of Hawes’ books offering informative tips and scientific data for people wanting to launch their own investigations.
7. James Van Praagh – New York Times best-selling author Van Praagh has built a long career as an author, television personality, producer, spiritual medium and clairvoyant. The CBS series “The Ghost Whisperer” was based on Van Praagh’s life and a miniseries entitled “Living with the Dead” that aired in 2002 was also semibiographical.
According to Van Praagh’s books and personal appearances, he’s had a long list of encounters with deceased individuals; including Lucille Ball and Roy Orbison. Many of these stories are recounted in his nonfiction books “Ghosts Among Us” and “Talking to Heaven.” The high level of public attention he received as a result of these books led to a paranormal talk show called “Beyond with James Van Praagh.” A controversial encounter with Barbara Walters helped solidify his psychic abilities in the minds of many people worldwide. Reportedly, Van Praagh warned Walters about an elevated white-blood-cell count. Two years later, Walters underwent open heart surgery and this event is now cited as evidence of Van Praagh’s unusual talents.
8. Felicitas D. Goodman – It might seem unusual for an anthropology and linguistics expert to end up writing one of the most compelling nonfiction books about demonic possession. Yet, this is exactly what happened when Felicitas D. Goodman made the decision to document an extremely controversial legal case which caused a huge debate as to whether or not demons exist. “The Exorcism of Anneliese Michel” was first published in 1981 and eventually became the inspiration for the film “The Exorcism of Emily Rose.”
Although Goodman’s book about the Anneliese Michel case is by far her most well-known work, she actually published many papers and books about a wide variety of topics of interest to paranormal enthusiasts. For example, her 1988 book “How About Demons: Possession and Exorcism in the Modern World” took a deeper look into the folklore surrounding exorcisms, drawing comparisons to real-life cases occurring during the modern age. Additionally, Goodman wrote extensively about religion, speaking in tongues and shaman rituals.
9. Charles Fort – Anyone interested in the paranormal and supernatural should be thankful to Charles Fort for his work as an anomalous phenomenon researcher in the early 1900s. Fort’s was obsessed with analyzing phenomena that was unexplainable, and he spent more than 30 years studying newspapers, scientific journals and magazines in various libraries throughout London and New York City with the intention of helping his fictional writing efforts. However, Fort’s interest in extraterrestrials, unconfirmed animals and the paranormal caused him to become synonymous with the nonfiction aspects of these phenomena. In fact, Fort’s work has inspired so many people to create either nonfiction or fiction pieces based around the paranormal and supernatural that there’s a term for his willing disciples: Forteans.
The easiest way to dig into Fort’s extensive collection of books based on his countless hours of research is to pick up a copy of “The Book of the Damned: The Collected Works of Charles Fort.” This omnibus will provide you with more than 1,000 pages dedicated to everything from the Loch Ness monster to extraterrestrials.
10. Ryan Buell – You know someone is extremely interested in the paranormal when they found a group entitled the Paranormal Research Society at the tender age of 19. This is how Ryan Buell first began his career as an author, producer and paranormal investigator. During the 13 years that have passed since the PRS was first started, Buell has become well-known throughout the industry for being the director and lead investigator on A&E’s “Paranormal State.” Additionally, Buell released a book in 2010 about his many experiences investigating the paranormal. Although it is a memoir as well as a collection of ghost encounters, “Paranormal State: My Journey into the Unknown” is still a notable entry into the nonfiction paranormal genre.
Buell has been involved in a few other film projects, including “The Ghost Prophecies” and “American Ghost Hunter.” Unfortunately, Buell has been battling pancreatic cancer since 2012 and has put his career on hold. However, his book is a great starting point for anyone interested in learning more about paranormal investigations.
‘If someone says there’s a portal to hell under some rocks, you bet your ass I’m going to move them.’ – Ryan Buell
Understandably, this is by no means an exhaustive list of notable nonfiction paranormal authors but it provides a good overview of many of the talented people and their published works definitely worth reading. Some of the other intriguing authors and investigators having released at least one book include Deonna Kelli Sayed, Constance Westbie, Concetta Bertoldi, W. Scott Poole, Colm A. Kelleher and Christopher Balzano. It would be worth your while spending time exploring some of these options because they all provide interesting looks at the various aspects of the paranormal and supernatural, ranging from Bigfoot sightings to verified home hauntings. If you’re like us at Monstrum Athenaeum, you probably have an affinity for a specific area of the paranormal (ours happens to be werewolves, vampires and zombies) so it’s definitely possible to find highly rated nonfiction work about whichever specific topic within the genre most intrigues you.
Perhaps you’ve read some of these books and don’t feel they quite measure up or are worthy of being in a top 10 list. Whether you agree or disagree, we’d like to hear what you think.
Do you have a favorite author you think we snubbed? Then let us know!